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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  July 11, 2013 9:00am-12:01pm EDT

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chinese markets. they use illegal, unscientific food safety standards to block both pork and beef. i am all about exports. remember, the president's export council, i want to see us export our products. but it seems to me removing the unfair barriers from china would be a lot quicker and more efficient than just saying that the only way we can get in is if they own our company. that doesn't make sense to me. commissioner slane, i wonder if from your perspective, you know, if you might speak about this. >> yes. madam chairman, this is really all about control. and the chinese could easily go out and buy pork on the market. the problem with that is they subject themselves to huge price increases, and they learned in the iron ore and the coal his that it was better for them to buy the mines than to just buy the ore. so here what they have found is
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that multi-national, vertically-integrated meat processing companies have a cost and price advantage. and so they have told their domestic industries like shuanghui, go out and find these companies and acquire them. and they, this is all about trying to control the price of pork and at the same time they're getting the value-added benefit by purchasing shuanghui, by purchasing smithfield. >> thank you. i'm over my time. senator cochran. >> my reaction to the testimony of the last witness is that there are many more negative factors that should be considered by our committee than positive ones if this merger or acquisition goes through. is that an inaccurate -- >> no. i would agree with that, senator. i think the end game from the chinese point of view is to ultimately dominate our domestic
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pork market, and they will take smithfield's technology, and they will integrate it into china. they are converting from backyard hog production to industrial scale. they need the technology for manure handling, for genetics, for the meat cutting, that sort of thing. and the history is that once they digest all of this and they get their industry up, then they'll start the try to export their pork to us. so i think their end game is to, ultimately, dominate in the long term. >> well, if you were serving as a member of the u.s. senate, would you consider this to be in the public interest of the united states or not? >> no. i would not. i think that there's four problems here as i see it in approving this transaction. the number one problem is that if this transaction is approved, how do you stop other chinese companies from coming in and buying our food processing companies in the united states?
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and for example, coco is the largest grain-trading company in china. they have publicly announced that they are seeking acquisitions of u.s. companies. so if this transaction with smithfield gets approved, i don't know how you stop other state-owned chinese companies from coming in and buying our food companies. the second thing that offends me is they can buy our companies, but we can't buy their companies. and, you know, there's just something really fundamentally wrong with that. and i think that the end game is to dominate our markets. that bothers me. and the final thing is that what we're doing here is if this is approved is you're importing a radically different economic system, and a system in which we
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have, which wees spowz free market. -- espouse free market. and that's a potential for conflict, as i see it. for those reasons i would be opposed. >> do you know of anybody who's for it? >> i'm sorry, sir? >> do you know of anybody who is in favor of the transaction being approved? >> yeah, yeah. [laughter] well, i figure -- >> mr. pope. >> mr. pope has no choice. >> mr. slaughter. >> and i think dr. slaughter supports it. >> el work i'm going to give them -- well, i'm going to give them an opportunity to tell us why this is in the public interests of the united states, and we should recommend approval or do we have the power to decide as a, as a political body of the united states that it shouldn't be permitted to be approved? >> senator, i hope you're not expecting me to tell you the powers of the u.s. senate and the u.s. legislative process. i'll leave that to, i'll leave that to you smart guys up there. i'm just a meat processer in the
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business world. but, yes, i am, i clearly am in favor of this transaction. i think it is good for america. i think this is the opportunity that america has been looking for to import jobs. there's been a discussion for the last 20 years about jobs being exported out of this country into china and things made in china and shipped back into the united states. this is the exact reverse of that. that is china looking to another market to help feed its growing demand and realizing, as the other witnesses indicated, they have a protein shortage, and asia is likely to be protein short for a very long teem. time. china consumes 50% of all the world's pork production, and asia consumes substantially more of the remainder, a substantial portion of the remaining 50%.
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that's the area of the world where pork is the number one protein. pork is number three in the united states. people in china eat a substantially more per capita than they do in the united states. this is a wonderful opportunity for the u.s. to do what it does best which is to producing a churl products and ship those around the world. this helps with the balance of payments of trade, this creates jobs, this creates opportunities for american farmers to grow. this seems like all of the things if you were writing down what would be positive, this is all the good things in life. but america's trying to do. so thank you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. senator brown. >> thank you, madam chair, and i appreciate senator cochran's line of questioning. for mr. pope and commissioner slane, do you think usda should be involved in the cfius review of this proposed deal?
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mr. popesome. -- mr. pope? >> we have absolutely no objection to that and support that process. >> okay. mr. slane? >> senator, i would totally support that. it's one of the weaknesses of cfius. >> one of the weaknesses is that in that you don't expect that cfius will decide to include usda in the process? >> as you know, they're not included now, so my hope is they become a permanent member of cfius and maybe some of the other agencies as well. >> especially if it's a food safety issue. >> right. >> mr. pope, we know this is a good deal for shareholders. we know, the long-term benefits for workers and farmers, and i heard what you said to senator cochran's question, but the long-term benefits for workers and farmers and american consumers, to me, are not so clear. but let me ask you something. financially, what's at stake for you personally and for top management?
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smithfield? in this deal? >> [inaudible] >> i think we're on record and publicly i think there's a public in our preliminary proxy we filed what the benefits are to me personal hi and my senior management team, and so we, i certainly stand to benefit from this. i am a shareholder in smithfield foods and have been. i've been with the company over 30 years. and i've acquired the ownership shares that i have over a very long period of time. and so the company has done well, and so i do stand, i do stand -- >> could you be more specific whatever you've said public and i share that with the committee? >> i don't have those numbers right here in front of me, but i'll be glad, if it's okay with my committee, to make sure you get the exact, accurate numbers. >> could you give us a range? i can't believe that you have not heard some of these numbers that will benefit you and other top management at least in some range that you could share with the committee? >> well, i certainly have, i certainly am a significant
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shareholder, so my share holding, my share holdings are going to receive the $34 a share that every other smithfield food shareholder is going to receive, and as well i have some equity awards that have been awarded over a very long period of time, and finally, i've got a retention. shuanghui, in order to make sure the management team stays in place, is putting in retention agreements to insure that nothing changes. and is those are payable over a three-year period, and they're not payable if the management team does not stay. so what i'm going to ultimately receive is still subject to the management team staying in place and continuing to run this company. >> where great. you said something, mr. pope, that i liked, a recognition that american business it's almost become maybe the first time in economic history as far as i can see where the business plan of a large number of companies in one country, our country, has to shut down production in the
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u.s., move production to a foreign country, china, then sell back into the original country. i don't know that that's happened in, that i've seen in world history to any appreciable degree. you're saying you're sort of the flipside of that. i'm not sure that i quite follow that, and this question's both for mr. pope and commissioner slane. how likely is it that the adoption of smithfield's processing technologies will allow shanghai, will allow shuanghui to export pork to the united states? >> well, let me -- >> because, i'm sorry, i'm concerned as chairman stabenow is, you know, of what can happen with the technology and that it does not create american jobs, it really goes the other way. so if you would discuss that and then mr. slane. >> senator, i think that's a, the concern that so many have posed is what's the opportunity that chinese product of what
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some would be considered a lesser standard are going to be imported back into this country. i was very clear in my testimony this is all ant exports. and, in fact, chinese products cannot be imported into the united states today, and they have no plans and no applications in place. and i have the highest respect for what the u.s. department of agriculture does in this country. and so in any event if any application was ever done, all of that product would be subject to usda standards just as, just as products manufactured in the united states are today. so i wouldn't suspect there would be, it'd have the same level of scrutiny that our products have manufactured in this country today, but i want to be clear, there is no discussion about that. there's a huge protein deficit in that part of the world, so this is not about exporting product from china to the u.s. it's about exporting u.s. product to china. >> well, it may not be today, but we have seen -- this is a different issue, but it's also not -- we've seen the
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pharmaceuticals contaminated pharmaceutical ingredients coming from china to the united states in the form of heparin and deaths as a result. we've seen other kinds of -- just not the same kind of respect for food safety, drug safety, toys, paint, lead-based paint on toys. all the kinds of back and forth sales from that country that has not, that have not observed the same kind of -- commissioner slane, if you'd comment on what mr. pope said and then -- >> be very short. >> in the short term, you're not going to see any imports, and i think that the long-term end game here is to dramatically increase production in china. the overriding principle of the chinese is food security, and they do that through self-sufficiency. they don't want to be dependent upon a foreign country for their food, so their end game is to get their production up to a certain point, and historically when you look at steel, toys, paper, all kinds of other industry, they start overproducing, and then they'll start to export.
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>> thank you very much. senator roberts. >> thank you, madam chairwoman. many pope, smithfield voluntarily agreed to undergo a review. i emphasize voluntarily by cfius. a marvelous acronym. at the time what were your expectations of the cfius review, and i would urge you to respond with regards to their very rigorous interagency review to determine the effect on national security. what was your expectation of this? >> senator, we feel like it's, we have a fully transparent process here, and we are more than open to review by any bodies and any agencies within the u.s. government. so we voluntary hi did make the
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sub commission to -- submission to cfius to insure that they did the review, to insure that there was not a national security issue associated with this. and i don't want to, i don't want to opine in terms of how cfius is going to conduct that review. it's done in a confidential way, and they certainly don't share with me what they're thinking. maybe -- >> well, that might be -- yes, i was going to say that really falls under our oversight responsibility. perhaps that should be the focus of another hearing. did you ever expect that the senate agriculture committee, cfius too, would hold a hearing on the acquisition of smithfield foods and the cfius process? >> is the question -- >> did you expect that? i mean, did you expect that this committee would hold a hearing on the acquisition? >> i don't know that i contemplated that, no. >> did you realize you were the victim of a chinese communist plot? [laughter] >> senator, i did not, to this
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moment i'm not sure i understand i'm the victim of a -- >> and the control of your company somehow to allow china to control the pork industry? were you aware of that? >> senator, i was not aware of that. [laughter] >> well, they own our debt, so you've got to be careful here. given the high demand for safe and knew trishes pork and pork products in china which you have underscored, others have as well, and even agreed to with the last two witness, what will be the impact on the acquisition for american pork producers and processers? i'm talking about growth here. can you be specific? >> well, senator -- >> how can others benefit from this? >> senator, that is almost the cornerstone of the rationale for this transaction for america. for china it's the feeding the population with high quality products from the united states. for the u.s. producer, this is an opportunity once again to grow. we as an industry have struggled
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with growth in this country. americans are eating less pork today than they were 15 years ago. so without the opportunity to grow outside the united states, there is no opportunity for the u.s. pork producer to expand. so the u.s. farmer doesn't have an opportunity, doesn't have an opportunity to grow his business. this is it to the largest market in the world. >> if china is unable to buy american pork either through this acquisition or other means, where will they turn to meet their population's demand for additional high quality pork? >> senator, they would look to, they could look to other countries. they could look to -- >> what countries? >> they could look to brazil, they could look to canada, potentially into, potentially into western europe although pork production is very expensive in that continent. and so the u.s. is the natural place, and they have, we have enormous respect -- and that's can a compliment -- >> what about the consumer in regards to prices at the grocery store in regards to pork
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products? >> senator, was the question about u.s -- >> american consumers. >> i don't expect there to be a significant impact of in this on u.s. consumers because we have the ability to expand this business and meet that need. >> um, one question here for dr. slaughter. welcome back. moving beyond smithfield in terms of the overall landscape for food and to some extent beverage companies, there's been a lot of talk about this setting an example, and then we have an avalanche of foreign investment here. are there other iconic american brands and companies with foreign direct investment? if so, what are a few examples? >> sure, senator. think of automobiles, think of information technology. so those are two industries that have long had a tremendous amount of inward investment into the united states and strong u.s. companies have undertaken a lot of investment outward to the rest of the world. >> maybe chrysler and fiat in michigan? >> great example. think of the apple iphone i've got in my briefcase.
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designed in california, assembled in china is what it says right now. i.t. is a great example of an industry where the flow of ideas -- >> what about agriculture? i've got three seconds. >> sure, agriculture as well. like from my hometown, cargill. great globally-engaged company that sells a lot around the world. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. senator johanns. >> thank you, madam chair. just an observation or two before i get to my questions. you know, one of the things that american agriculture's facing is that 95% of the world's population doesn't live here. they live someplace else in the world with. you look at a market like china, it's a growing market, dramatically growing as a matter of fact. not only a lot of people, but as their standard of living continues to increase, one of the first things they'll look to
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is a better food supply. so they look to the united states. the other thing about china is that if there's a trade imbalance relative to agriculture, it's in our favor. we sell them more than they sell to us. why? because of some of the things that were mentioned today. i look at this transaction, and i think, well, could they move production to china? well, they've got a water problem. a very serious water problem. if they can't get water, they can't very well raise corn. and so i just think the problems of moving production are too great for china to overcome over the long term. so i don't see much possibility there. could they move processing to china? well, they certainly have a labor force, but the product is here. and if they can't raise the product in china, it makes more
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sense to come here, find the product, find the country where it can be grown, that's here in the united states. but i think here's the problem that we're struggling with, and the reality is -- just to be very candid -- there isn't really a legal mechanism in place that really reviews this much or that could likely stop it. i appreciate you submitted the cfius. quite honestly, the standard is such that there just isn't much that can be done here. i suppose congress could act, but if our experience with the farm bill's any indication, that's probably not going to work out too well. you know, the senate might to something, but you kind of wonder what would happen at the house, or the house could do something, you kind of wonder what would happen at the senate. but here's the problem in dealing with this transaction, i think, for us and for the people
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that we represent. there is something really offensive about the reality that they can do this here, but a very aggressive company like smithfield which which has kindf redesigned pork production in the united states could not do this in china. mr. pope, that's not a hard question. it's not. you know for a fact you could not do in china what they are doing here with smithfield. the chinese regulators would laugh at you if you said, well, i'll just buy shuanghui. and to us, that is just very, very difficult. so how do we do something here that's realistic, that really gets to the essence of what i
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think our people are concerned about and that is that is the food supply going to be protected? are, at the end of the day, is china going to pick the chinese versus america? because they'll now control what percentage of the u.s. pork production. there'll be a very large percentage. so how do we insure our people back home that pork will be available, it will be affordable, we will still have the kind of controls that i think they hope we will have? mr. pope, hard question for you. but how do i go back home and tell nebraskans, don't worry, this is a good transaction for you. >> senator, you're right, that is a -- i know it's troubling with respect to the open, the openness of the u.s., the u.s. marketplace versus other countries in the world who have
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different approval processes. so i won't speak to whether we could, whether we could buy the largest, whether we could buy shuanghui or not. i haven't tried, so i'd just be speculating. however, i think there's an important thing here. we have a strong food safety program under the u is sda -- usda. the programs we have inside our plants, the integrity of the brands and the sophistication of the management teams we have in place in these businesses, we're going to protect these brands, and we're going to protect this business, and if we don't, the u.s. inspectors are going to do it anyway. this is a highly-regulated industry. the u.s. government and tight inspection protocols are in place on every pound of meat we produce in every plant. and those on the agriculture committee, you know that. you know how tight those inspection processes are. that's why people around the world take such comfort in a usda stamp on product that they receive. and they're going to continue to
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have that assurance that anything, regardless of where the ownership is, this country -- this company's got to operate under the laws of the united states. we're not operating under the laws of china. we're operating under the auspices of the usda and the food inspection process and our own developed programs beyond that. so i think you can, i think to your constituents back home it's the same old smithfield. nothing's going to change. this is going to be an american company. we're going to continue to operate like an american company, and we're going the continue to protect these brands. the conversations i've had with those people at shuanghui, this is one of the things they're trying to buy. they want us to help them develop those food safety protocols and help to protect their food supply. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. yes. senator grassley. >> i'm going the start with dr. haley and commissioner slane. do you agree with mr. pope's answer to senator roberts'
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question about the benefits of u.s. pork produce ors and processers -- producers and processers to expand and to grow domestically as a result of this transaction? >> um, no, i don't. i don't think shuanghui is buying smithfield for its pork. all of smithfield's production is about 3% of what china produces. shuanghui is buying smithfield for its brand name and to assuage the horrible reputation china has as far as food production goes and exports of food. its gene technology which is a strategically important industry for china. it is bolstered by indigenous innovation policies for its -- because it wants to move up into value-added production. it already is as regards china -- >> so now are you speaking to the point though do you think it
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will expand american production and and -- >> i think we will be producing more pork, a steady line of pigs going to china, but i also think that it's going to be other side effects. for example, competitors will now be dealing with the shuanghui/smithfield that's as inscrutable as any other chinese company. any sorts of information will not be made public, for example. it'll go through the morass of chinese dissemination. your competitors will be dealing with -- >> i think you've answered my question, and i'd like to get mr. slane -- >> okay, sorry. >> and then i want to get into some other things. go ahead. >> senator, last year the chinese consumed just under 120 billion pounds of pork. they imported 1.5 billion pounds. a little over 1%. smithfield exported 1.2 billion pounds of pork. smithfield has the capability to
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supply the import needs of pork to make up the difference in the chinese economy without any other u.s. pork producer participating. >> since -- it's my understanding four producers in the united states or processers control 74% of the market, so i'm always concerned about antitrust and competition issues. this would be to any of you that want to answer. do you have any concerns that this could increase predatory business practices in the pork industry domestically? go ahead. you can start. any -- >> well, i think it's going to be very difficult for competitors because they're not going to be able to in this very tightly-controlled industry, they're not going to be able to decipher what one major company's doing. yes, it will. >> okay. >> senator, how does an american
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company compete with a company, a chinese company that has no cost of capital, that has enormous subsidies made available to them and, in effect, american companies are not competing with a chinese company, but with the chinese government. >> that's right. >> and they can't win that competition. >> that's right. and the chinese government has come out publicly and said that. they said we encourage those acquisitions which when translated means we subsidize and facilitate those transactions. >> dr. thoughter, you had -- slaughter, you had a different point of view in your testimony on that. you obviously disagree with them. i'd like to have you convince me when we thought a few years ago that the chinese, whatever seanook or whatever the oil company is shouldn't buy because we thought it was against our national interests and maybe even our national security interests. since food is such an important part of national security, why this might not be a problem from
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that point of view. and you said that the government doesn't have, chinese government doesn't have much to do with this small, you said small company. in china. >> so i think, first of all, senator, i the cfius review of this transaction is entirely warranted. i served on cfius, in fact, around the time of that particular transaction when i served in government before. the interagency process works well in cfius, and i think this is a transaction given its novel nature where precisely a careful look at cfius makes sense. secondly, i agree with a lot of what was said about the challenge of growing food in china, although i gently would disagree and say the major goal for the chinese government here is to maintain social stability given the demands of their population for safe and clean i-produce -- cleanly-produced food. >> so you didn't said you didn't think the chinese government had much to do with this company that's buying smithfield, but on the other hand, the chinese
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government's very concerned about social cohesion and that sort of thing, and so they're -- how do you know they aren't pushing the company to buy smithfield? and so the government's got an involvement in it. the chinese government has an involvement in it. .. you have a huge company in the sense of controlling a good part
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of the market and again what is that going to be the effect on consumers and the effect on the american worker is the bottom line? tell me, mr. pope, my understanding of the reason china wants to do this is as has been alluded to the need protein, they need the pork. if right now they don't have the green to do that over its very take four or five pounds of grain to make a pound of pork, it makes sense to raise the work where the grain is that. is that true? >> that is exactly true. no different from the way pork and meat is produced in this, largely produced where the grain is, china has had a policy to be self-sufficient in feeding where population however i think they have concluded that is going to
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be a difficult process and one solution to that is to import the barack. >> i'm trying to understand the reasoning. they send it back in a sense that a lot of it goes back i would assume it would but again our producers backfill what goes back theoretically and you sell more grain, you sell more pigs. is that too simple and understanding? >> i think power producers, some are in the room with me, have overwhelmingly supported this. >> that is the good point. some large producers also, where are they? large producers, small producers, are they for this or against it? >> i don't believe i have gotten
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any feedback from any producer opposed to this. they are overwhelmingly supportive of the opportunity to grow again and i don't know any producer who is opposed to this. >> have you visited with our producers? do you know if they are for or against this? >> i have not talked to any senator. >> that would probably be a good idea. again, to me, we are drifting into all kinds of things. i share your concern for food safety and if we are not doing a good job in that regard because we have all kinds of stuff going on here now, i am not saying i am supporting or against, i am just trying to find the information. there's a lot of product coming in right now in we need to do a better job than we do. i don't understand, if your argument is we shouldn't do this, allow this to be done here because we can't do it over is
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there, there are countries we deal with that we can't buy property in and yet we allow them to buy property year. there are all kinds of other situations like that, matters that come about. >> i have great fear of the chinese, i have travelled in africa a lot and understand the methods that are used but apart from that that is not a very good argument. >> only to the extent we have an opportunity for these companies to acquire their companies. there's something fundamentally wrong, power commission recommended it be modified, and we reject applications where we
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can't buy the company in that country. >> and again, like i said, this is a separate deal in the sense this is a huge problem in many countries throughout the world. the other thing i would like to ask about if you are knowledgeable, i am told that as far as this being the rocket science as far as pork production, it is pretty easy. i used to have a bunch of cals and worked genetics that way. this is an industry that is a pretty stable industry that the access to genetics and things like that if you want to obtain it, there's not a great mystery in the feed to mix or this or that. is that true or false? >> i think in terms of technology, essentially what we do we don't have any patents. it is commercial available.
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>> thank you for having the hearing. this is very helpful. >> thank you, senator simmons. >> i appreciate you coming in and answering our questions. i think one of the issues with this acquisition, we will not see a month from now or a year from now any visible impact on the nation's livestock industry or food supply or food safety for that matter but we need to look at these in terms of what the impact will be five or ten years down the road, how the nation's food supply might be impacted, how food safety might be impacted. you have 20% of the world's population living in china so food security is a high priority especially since only 8% of the world's cropland is in china. china will have to look beyond its borders to assure a steady stable food supply but we have to ensure that china's food security and adequate supply doesn't come at the expense of hours in the united states.
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i want to ask, mr. pope, you mentioned it would be the same old smithfield only better and we are committed to continuing our labor contract and quality brands with the highest reputation for food safety. we are all encouraged to hear that as smithfield has been an asset to the american food supply in the past decades but i wonder if you could elaborate on any assurances that have been given to business partners, producers, employees, consumers that smithfield will be as you put it the same old smithfield. >> thank you. i would love to address that. we have always been forthcoming in terms of the commitment and public statements on the announcement of this deal of their commitments. they are well aware that this is a large acquisition going on in the united states and they are
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well aware of the public overview and concern about this transaction so they are very knowledgeable, thoughtful about what they are committing to realizing they will be held accountable to that. the fact that the overwhelming support of so many different organizations and participants in the pork industry have come forward with this should give you assurance that someone would live up to their commitments. i have known these folks for several years and they always lived up to their commitments to us. they are the leader in their country and they are partnering with the leader in the largest pork producer in the world with the largest for consuming country in the world with the largest processor in that country. the marriage is sort of very natural and automatic. in terms of commitment, very grateful for the fact that people like the unions have stepped forward and said we understand they are going to honor our contracts.
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our producers in the industry, many have stepped forward and said we salute this transaction as well as many of our competitors in this industry have also come forward saluting this transaction as good for this industry for the long-term. i have got over 30 years with smithfield so i have an enormous invested emotionally in this company and i am going to make sure i continue as ceo of this company and i will have a future in the way this country continues -- the way this company continues to operate and i realize we will be held accountable to the american public and the regulatory process in this country and i am very comfortable channeling 100%, north carolina pork producers just today meeting with chairman wan in china, put out a press release in the last few hours complementing their meeting with them and his commitment, the commitment to maintain the food safety
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standards smithfield has in place today. from as good an assurance as anyone can have their making public statements on the record that they are going to maintain the management team and our operations and food safety standards. >> mr. slane identifies a chinese state-controlled company. your testimony you state it is a private holding company based in hong kong. would you agree it is a state-controlled company. >> i would not agree. fairly easy to research. >> mr. slane. >> a high-ranking member of the chinese communist party and a 15 year veteran of the national people's congress. he was appointed to the position by the chinese communist party and the answers to the chinese communist party and does not do
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what they say, they will remove him or worse. in addition he controls a majority of stock and voting rights of cjuan ewei. the bank of china is financing the $4.7 billion in this transaction. the bank of china does not finance any transactions unless they are told to by the chinese government. by any definition this is a state-controlled company. >> two more things, why is state control. >> its subsidiary was listed on the shin jin stock exchange. you don't get a listing like that without the support. several government people have come out and said openly they support this acquisition. that doesn't happen unless there is something else going on. >> thank you very much.
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senator heitkamp. >> madam chairman, i apologize for coming in out of a significant meeting, wanted a chance to listen to all the questioning and i know a lot of the ground that i wanted to cover has already been covered. i have one question of mr. pope, always good to get commitments on the finances when negotiating a deal and when you want to make people happy and when you want to come before panel like this and say things will go well but what are the legal requirements that contracts be maintained, all of the things that have been promised will come to fruition now and into the future. and when it was finalized, those commitments go away. >> many of those commitments i
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made reference to our legal binding contracts under u.s. what so they had no choice but to honor the contracts we have with our union employees as well as 2,000 contracts with our contract growers. we have those in place and they have no chance but to honor those contracts. >> no contract is permanent. what is the termination date of those contracts? >> those contracts have varied termination dates but the fact is chuan wei realize is an important facet they are buying is the management team in place on employees placed in the relationships we have with our growers and suppliers. they wouldn't be paid the 30% premium to the market without realizing they're getting a valuable asset. the discussion being held earlier this year about the potential breakup of this company into parts by some other interested parties created some
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of this interest by chuan wei and other interested parties because of the value of this vertically integrated model. >> can use the with legal certainty that in ten years you can come back here and say contract similar to the contract you have today with your growers must be in tact and you will have union contracts in ten years? >> senator, it is difficult for me to project the future. as certain as i can be about anything i am virtually positive we will have contracts with our contract growers because we don't have a business without them. our contract growers are one of the most import-sets this company holds, the ability to work with our producers. that is the key asset be on the brand the company owns, the second most important asset we have and the relationship we have with the united where food and commercial workers i would ask you to ask them themselves, they have had so much support, they are highly confident the
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company will continue to recognize them as the union is in place and have contracts favorable to their employees or their work force. >> not to be labor the point but the concern here is in anything like this that will have a fair level of controversy as you see from the panel today there are a lot of commitments made and we like to envision in ten years we will come back and they we were right, it all worked out and i certainly hope that is the case. just be aware that is a fair amount of cynicism and concern about this transaction and part of that is born out of concern for what is going to happen to the intellectual property of this property. the quality of the work that you do, the intellectual product, the know how that you have, once
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that has been acquired as an asset of a chinese company, we then see that basically undermine pork production in our company. and that is the concern. this ground has been plowed and i think the chairwoman for having the hearing but again i hope in ten years you are right. >> thank you very much. i want to talk about exports because a shining star for us in the united states is agricultural exports. we have for every $1 billion in reinvest we have got 5,000 jobs created. we have a surplus in terms of exports and agriculture which is very important. pork is very export dependant. you need to export. right now, if china opened its
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doors and didn't apply illegal land and scientific food safety standards you could just export to them and create more jobs. that would be terrific. other producers, independent producers that are configured differently than smithfield could do that right now but that is not what we are talking about. my question is now that chuan wei will have access to smithfield production technology and genetics and improved food safety practices is it possible, i am sure it will increase egyptian see, that is why they are willing to pay a premium for the company. japan sits next door to our largest export market from the united states. why wouldn't china export to japan? mr pope? >> very good question and it is a concern that the industry has,
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japan is a very important market for the pork industry and you are right again about the importance of exports to the health of the pork industry. i like to say exports have become the lifeblood of the pork industry and when we don't have sizable exports the industry suffers significantly as a result of that. today china could and does export into japan very limited amounts. they are very tight food safety standards between -- in japan with respect to with respect to chinese product. so they had their plan approvals. i am sure you and your staff knows that. there has been very little but there is some. the thing that gives me comfort is the economics. pork is substantially more expensive in china than it is in the u.s..
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it surprises many people to hear that. pork prices are 50% higher in china. it is not achiever market. it is are higher market. they have an economic disadvantage in shipping to japan because they don't have the grain. they have to import the grain. the grain has got to be grown some place else. it has to be shipped to china. they have nowhere near the productivity in their herds. is much more expensive to their economic disadvantage in the u.s. as an economic advantage in selling japan. the deficit that exists in china today i think is of very real deficit. i think is an opportunity for u.s. exports. china is looking at this as an opportunity to feed their people, to satisfy the civil issue they have got to solve giving safe food to their people. it is an opportunity to import and export back out to japan.
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>> they could see their people by opening their markets to the great american pork products that we have and they have chosen -- i understand they would like your brand, it is an excellent brand. one of the concerns or questions i have is whether or not your brand which will be put on chinese pork which has been less than stellar, is going to be a problem for your brand down the road. i wonder if dr. haley and commissioner thune would like to talk about the economics of this. >> as i said before, that shine at or chuan wei bought smithfield is just 3% of chinese production but what happened in other industries which is -- we spent the last five years looking at these industries, higher value-added manufacturing
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will move to china and by that i mean processed products and you. denis hughes the smithfield brand and export poor, the steady stream will go on and all sorts of negative externalities' like pollution mounting and soy and other interrelated feed industries, their prices going up as well. we will be exporting more pork but importing more processed foods from china so we will be exporting more commodities as we have been doing, we currently import 560% more technologically advanced products from china than we export. so we will be importing processed foods and exporting our commodities. as we are importing more we will be exporting, our trade deficit will continue to grow. china is not seeing this as just one acquisition. it has government support. these companies have government support and j.c. smithfield as a way in the door.
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there will be very many. i have spoken to people in shy and this acquisition is being very carefully monitored. there are other companies waiting in the wings to buy more companies. this is a weighty decision and i think it really has to be looked at very carefully as to what we want to do with the agricultural sector in this country. >> commissioner? >> it is important to note that chuan wei has production and distribution systems in japan and south korea so they are obviously penetrating that market. with the subsidies from the chinese government eventually long-term they could undermine u.s. exports to those markets. >> thank you. my time is up. there are other members that have questions, senator thune? >> i want to take advantage of
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mr. slaughter's expertise and asked a question. i would like to hear in your words what you see as the long-term implications of the merger and acquisition on the american food manufacturing industry and to be more precise is this acquisition going to be a job creator for american workers? >> it has every potential to do so and if i could echo mr. pope's response about the long term the one dimension i hope he is wrong is in five to ten years smithfield doesn't have 36,000 employes in america but 66,000. most of the growth in the world is outside the united states, and echoed the chairman stabenow's nice framing the number again economically is twenty two million. there are twenty two million under am -- under employed americans in america today. we need to create in the next two to ten years twenty million new jobs in america and a lot of those jobs are ideally going to
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come from american workers and their businesses being connected to opportunities in world markets. there's a lot of legitimate concern about the economics of the element of china but the engagement of china and the rules based transparent policymaking process is critical to try to allow american workers like those of smithfield and other industries to be connected to that growth in china. >> in your testimony you mention foreign direct investment in the long term as the ability to the american economy. i wonder if you see any situation in which foreign directive investment might be a detriment or an untenable risks to the american economy. >> anytime there is a foreign investment that raises a legitimate national security concern for america, that is when investments should be looked at closely if not forbidden. the smithfield process has decades as a well-run and well managed process for reviewing
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those national security concerns. and the answer to that is individual transactions sometimes don't work well for parties involved but if you look at the clear historical record for america over decades, direct investment like this transaction has generated large benefits for american workers in broader economy. >> thank you, madam chair. >> thank you very much. this has been a very important, thoughtful hearings, very informal, i appreciate everyone being here today. we have a number of issues that have been raised, from my perspective i remain concerned about the adequacy of our government's review process for these acquisitions of our food supply. i really believe this is a precedent setting case. i am concerned about more waiting in the wings to come, which just says to me we need to be thoughtful on behalf of american consumers and producers in a broader economy to make
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sure that we are looking at the adequacy of the review process and what is in the best interests of our country. i want to remind members that we are going to be with the treasury department, going across the hall now to meet with those that are involved with this review process and we will have questions for them as well. any additional questions should be submitted to the committee cut by five business days from today. at 5:00 p.m. wednesday, july 17th, and again, this is important, i hope we will continue to see a strong robust pork industry in america and we will continue, i have no doubt that our standards will remain high in this country and we certainly want all the right things to happen but there are legitimate issues here about
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what this is all about and the long-term implications for what will happen to the industry. thank you very much for joining us. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> we head live to capitol hill this morning where the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. members are expected to resume debate on measures involving the dublin of some loan interest rates. lawmakers reached an agreement last night on a proposal and we
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could see a final vote sometime next week. part of the agreement would include interest rate on new federal student loans being based on the market. now live to the senate floor here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. today's opening prayer will be offered by guest chaplain, pastor kris holzmeyer from northwoods baptist church, new burke, indiana. -- ne newburgh, indiana.
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the campus pastor: let us pray. omnipotent heavenly father, we come to you this day in a spirit of worship. you are sovereign in all things and active in the affairs of men. we are grateful for the blessings of freedom and prosperity you have bestowed upon our country and its citizens. we acknowledge that you and you alone are the provider of those blessings. lord, we ask for your forgiveness for the many sins that plague our nation. we ask for your divine intervention, as we move forward seeking to bring you glory and honor as a people. today, men and women will gather in this room to make decisions on behalf of the american people. all of them have left family, friends, and occupations to serve a greater cause. will you bless them lord? will you shower them with your favor?
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help them to be unified, seeking your will first and making your motives their own. may the decisions they reach today serve our people well, but most importantly, may they be pleasing unto you. in the name of jesus christ our lord we pray. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, july 11, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable brian schatz, a senator from the state of hawaii, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy,
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president pro tempore. mr. reid: mada mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to calendar number 124. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 124, s. 138, a bill to amend the higher education act of 1965 and so forth and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following my remarks an those of the republican leader, the time until 12:30 today will be equally divided and controlled with the republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the majority controlling the next 30 minutes. the senate will recess from 12:30 to 2:15 for some caucus meetings that we are going to have. mr. president, last month the republican leader spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of keeping one's word. i agree without any question. senators and everyone else should keep their word, and i
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also believe that a deal is a deal, a contract is a contract, an arrangement is an arrangement, a bargain is a bargain. and as long as each party to such an agreement holds up his end of the bargain, senators should stick to their word. but an agreement is a two-way street. if one party fails to uphold their end, the agreement, of course, is null and void. the republican leader wants everyone to believe -- he's made many statements here on the floor that i have not responded to -- that i have broken my word. but he neglects to recall his own commitments and his own words. remember, an agreement is a two-way street. so let's take a closer look at what the republican leader committed to do. let's look at the agreement we entered into together on the floor of this body, the united states senate. in a colloquy at the beginning of this congress, in january of
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this year, january 24, i committed not to amend the standing rules of the senate except through regular order. during that colloquy, senator mcconnell also made a commitment. senator mcconnell committed to end the constant republican obstruction and return the senate to a time when nominations were processed more efficiently. this is what he said. this is a quote. "on the subject of nominations, senate republicans will continue to work with the majority to process nominations, consistent with the norms and traditions of the senate." close quote. i replied here on the floor, "the two leaders will continue to work together to schedule votes on nominees in a timely manner by unanimous consent, except in extraordinary circumstances." remember, mr. president, an agreement is an agreement. a contract is a contract. a bargain is a bargain.
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the republican leader also pledged -- and i quote -- "this congress should be more bipartisan than the last congress." he promised to, i quote, "work with the majority to process nominations." he committed that -- quote -- "the two leaders will continue to work together to schedule votes on nominees in a timely manner by unanimous consent except in extraordinary circumstances." close quote. those were his words. those were his commitments. those were his promises. by any objective standard, they've been broken. let's take a look at the record -- part of the record at least. exactly three weeks after senator mcconnell committed to process nominees consistent with the norms and conditions of the senate -- i repeat, scingts with the norms and traditions of the senate -- consistent with the norms and traditions of the senate, he led the filibuster of
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the nominee for secretary of defense, a highly qualified nominee, somebody we served with here in this body. so nothing can be a starker violation of a commitment to return to the norms and traditions of the senate than launching the first ever in the history of our republic filibuster of a secretary of defense. what's more, republicans have obstructed the nominee because of completely unrelated issues and despite the fact that the nominee, chuck hagel, was a war hero from the vietnam conflict and a former republican senator from nebraska. republicans were busy educate tearincatering to the tea party related to the benghazi scandal. secretary hagel was not even there. the confirmation of cabinet
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secretaries used to be free from obstruction. once if a while there would be something, but not very often. but under president obama, cabinet nominees have faced unprecedented obstruction and significant delays in assuming their positions. not a single cabinet nominee was filibustered in president carter's administration. not a single cabinet nominee was filibustered in president george h.w. bush's administration. one cabinet secretary was filibustered in the reagan administration. and only one cabinet secretary was filibustered in president george w. bush's administration. but already in the obama administration, four cabinet secretaries have been filibustered and more filibusters are likely. remember, mr. president, he still has three and a half years to go in his term of office. yet the republican leader says, there's no problem here. status quo is fine. the republicans were willing to risk national security for the sake of tea party politics when concerning the hagel nomination.
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and they're willing to risk it again when considering the nomination of john brennan to lead the c.i.a., the central intelligence agency. now, we have the secretary of defense, we have the c.i.a. director. they filibustered the nomination of aman charged with -- a man charged with an agency for the national security. republican obstructionism has affected nearly every single one of president obama's noments. nominees. this obstruction has continued at every level and through creative new method. even more president obama's nominations reached the senate floor, senate republicans bogged them down with unreasonable demands, terribly time-consuming, and they're designed to be, if not unattainable, really hard and difficult. tom perez, this is a man who worked as garbage man to put himself through school.
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he hauled garbage. he's the president's nominee for secretary of labor. he received, after the public hearing, more than 200 questions, for the record. these are not easy questions. they're not single-line questions. jack lew, the president's nominee for the secretary of treasury, was asked more than 700 questions before he was confirmed. previously, secretaries of treasury were just put through here with just a handful of questions. now, jack lew is being held up again for another position he wants -- international monetary fund. here is the secretary of treasury of our nation. gina mccarthy, after a full hearing, which took quite a while to get arranged because the chairman of the committee wanted to make sure the ranking member was satisfied with the time and witnesses and all that,
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she was asked to lead the environmental protection agency. i know quite a bit about that committee. i was chairman of that committee twice, mr. president. now, this is -- this is -- this is a world series deal here. this holds the record. she had more than 1,100 questions. it used to be montana for nominees to be -- it used to be common for nominees to be asked a handful of questions after the hearing took place. my colleague, the minority leader, wants to claim credit for letting some nominees proceed. but the fact that he seeks credit for approving nominee soms only highlight -- some nominees only highlights the extent of the problem. confirming nominees should be the norm, not the exception. remember the agreement we talked about here on the floor? the president deserves to have his or her term in place. mr. president, i don't care who's -- i really cairks but it
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doesn't really matter who is elected, whether it is jeb bush or hillary clinton or joe biden. that person shouldn't have to go through what we've gone through the last four and a half years. one look at the senate's executive calendar shows that fundamentally nothing has changed since senator mcconnell and i entered in our supposed agreement. there are yentsl currently 15 ee branch nominees ready to be confirmed by the senate, after long stalling in many different ways. they've been waiting more than 260 days. mr. president, add it up. that's about nine months for confirmation. at this point, president bush's secretary term, the senate confirmed three times as many executives as for president obama. by the 4th of july, president clinton's second term, the senate had confirmed 80 of his nominees.
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by the 4th of july of this year, president obama -- 34. remember, he's got three and a half years left. through june of this year, i've been forced to file cloture on 25 obama executive nominees -- 25, eating up so much time here. by comparison, cloture was rarely filed during the eight years that bush was president. these procedural blockades are as obvious as they are unprecedented. yet the republican leader says, there's no problem here. the status quo is fine. mr. president, this leaves me to wonder, what exactly does my friend -- and he is my friend -- senator mcconnell consider an "extraordinary circumstance?" is it an extraordinary circumstance when republicans merely dislike an otherwise
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qualified nominee? is it an extraordinary circumstance when republicans simply dislike the agency that the nominee will lead? 1,100 questions. is it an extraordinary circumstance when republicans dislike the very laws a nominee would be bound to up with uphold? is it -- it is a disturbing trend, mr. president, when republicans are willing to block executive branch nominees even if they have no objection about the qualification of the nominee. they don't like the law. they don't like the agency. instead, they're blocking qualified nominees to circumvent the legislative process, force wholesale changes to laws or restructure entire executive branch dments. they're blocking qualified nominees because they refuse to accept the law of the land. a perfect example -- richard cordray, former attorney general of the state of ohio, he's been asked by president obama to lead the consumer finance protection bureau. now, mr. president, just a
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little background here. remember, this was part of a bill that was passed called dad-frank. this consumer finance protection bill was the brainchild of elizabeth bar rein, who by the way is now a senator representing massachusetts. the reason she is in the senate is not a charntion don't even put her down there. the president for a long time wanted her to be there. no, can't have her. so cordray was her replacement. he was nominated in july of 2011. it's july 2013 now. there is no doubt about his ability to do the job. he's won high praise from both democrats and republicans. he really has a stellar track record. if mr. cordray received a fair up-or-down vote, he would be confirmed immediately. but the consumer financial
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protection bureau continues to operate without a leader because republicans want to roll back a law that protects consumers from the greed of the big wall street banks that caused us to have the meltdown we had in the first place. republicans refuse to confirm richard cordray's nomination because they refuse to accept the law of the land. they don't dislike him. they dislike the law that was passed. yet, the republican leader says there is no problem here. the status quo is fine. the same type of blatant obstruction was applied to the nomination of gina mccarthy to lead the environmental protection agency. this is a woman, mr. president, that has wide-ranging support with republicans. she served in state republican administrations. she was nominated 130 days ago or thereabouts. and although she has a proven
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track record of public service that will help her bring environmentalists and business groups together to tackle the serious environmental challenges facing our nation, her nomination drags on and just lingers. why? republicans fundamentally oppose the mission of the agency, the e.p.a., the agency she will lead to keep the air we breathe, the waur we drink -- the water we drink safe from dangerous pollution. once again they refuse to accept the law of the land. yet, the republican leader says there's no problem here. status quo is just fine. nothing's wrong with the senate, how it works. republicans also made clear from the start that they would never confirm donald berwick to lead the center for medicare and medicare services, the agency tasked with implementing landmark health care reform. mr. president, talk about politicians, this was a harvard professor of medicine. now, this health care law is already saving seniors money on
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checkups and prescriptions. millions of seniors have wellness checkups. women are no longer considered a preexisting disability as they were before. because of health care reform companies can no longer deny coverage to children. because of health care reform, can't have lifetime caps anymore like the man that was, a race car driver in nevada who got in an accident. not racing. just an accident in his car. he was paralyzed. after $100,000 limit, he's through. no more help from the insurance company. he went on welfare. because of the law, you can't discriminate against those with preexisting conditions. it used to be there was no limit
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on what they could spend on executives at the companies. now they're limited, 20%. that's why millions of people this year got refunds because the insurance company was gouging them. but because republicans oppose this health care law -- and you know, the house, i think they scheduled another vote next week. they'll vote, i think, for the 41st time to repeal it, because republicans oppose the health care law, they have done everything in their power to rail the law's implementation. despite dr. berwick's stellar credentials, republicans defamed him and destroyed his chances of confirmation because they refuse to accept the law of the land. they refused to confirm berwick, so in 2010 president obama was forced to recess appoint him. berwick's term ended a year and a half later because that's, under recess appointments. he was never confirmed by the senate to lead c.m.s. although
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his nomination was pending for 593 days, more than a year and a half. yet, the republican leader says there is no problem here. status quo is just fine. the same type of politically motivated obstruction hobbled the national labor relations board. mr. president, this isn't some brand-new law that democrats came up with. this came into being during the great depression. not this one, the one in the 1930's. that's when the national labor relations board originated. from january 2008 to march 2010 the national labor relathessed board -- relationed board operated with just two members. june 2010 the supreme court invalidated work during this period finding three members were necessary. there was no quorum unless you
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had at least an extra one. we didn't have it because they wouldn't let us do it. the president obama appointed three members to the board so it would function. the appeals court ruled those were also unconstitutional. the case will go to the supreme court about recess appointments. mr. president, i had a meeting earlier with one of my friends, republican friends here this morning. one of my friends, republican friends met in my office. i reminded everyone this issue came up in the past. we put people on that d.c. circuit that you had to gag to vote for, mr. president, in an t to cooperate here in the senate. we put on after this outrageous opinion after 230 years as a country no longer could you have
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recess appointments. it's going to go to the supreme court. in the meantime the term of nlrb members expires next month so at the first of august the nlrb will continue to nonfunction. republicans consider that a victory. and i'm not making this up. listen. in 2011 the senior senator from south carolina -- and i care a great deal about this man, lindsey graham. he would say he's my friend. i'm saying he's my friend. but listen to what he said. and i quote, "the nlrb as inoperable could be considered progress. the nlrb as inoperable could be considered progress." workers are illegally
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terminated, they have no way of appeal. labor abuse and unfair employment practices go unchallenged. yet the republican leader says there is no problem here. the status quo is just fine. the constitution gives the president, whoever that president might be, the right, the power to choose his team. it grants the senate the right to advise and consent on those choices. a consistent and unprecedented obstruction by this republican congress has turned advise and consent into deny and obstruct. republicanism obstruction is to deny president obama the ability to choose a team. whether you're a democrat or republican or independent, we should all be able to agree that presidents deserve the team members they want. and their nomination be subject to simple up-or-down votes. no president -- excuse me.
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no president can safeguard america's national and economic security to the best of his or her ability without their chosen team in place. so, mr. president, let's see if we can come up with an example. davey johnson is a manager of the national meets. his team we're so happy to have here in washington. he's here as manager of that team to field a winning team. he was a starting second baseman for the baltimore orioles when he won four american league pennants, two world series championships. he's managed five different pwaefrbl baseball teams. led the meets in 1986 as a manager. last year he took the first division title since 1981. mr. president, major league baseball season begins about
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april 1. now imagine the front office, major league baseball, calling up davey johnson around the first of april and said, davey, i know that that first baseman, you signed him a week or so, is really a good first baseman. he's swell. golden glover, classic power hitter. but i'm sorry to tell you that you can't play him until maybe the middle of june. and then davey johnson's called again by the same man and says that third baseman, ryan zimmerman, i know you like him. he's a man who has won the silver slugger award. he's been a golden glover, all-star. but tell you what, you can play him as soon as the all-star breaks over. mr. president, what would happen to that team? they would go on.
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they would perform just like president obama has done, but they don't play to their ability. and that's ridiculous that that's where we are. but that's exactly what republicans are saying to president obama. you can't have your team until we tell you everything is just fine, it's going to take a long timing for us to tell you that. the gridlock republicans created is not only bad for president obama and bad for the senate, it's bad for this country. mr. president, we can have people come here and give you all the statistics in the world. is there anybody out there in america that thinks this body is functioning well? upon examination of this record that i've outlined of obstruction, delay and filibuster, it could hardly be said using a quote, work together to follow regular order. it can hardly be said senator
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mcconnell worked with the majority of nominations. it can hardly be said he scheduled votes on nominees in a timely manner except in extraordinary circumstances. but it could be said senator mcconnell broke his word. that certainly could be said. the republican leader has failed to live up to his commitments. he has failed to do what he said he would do, move nominations by regular order except in extraordinary circumstances. i refuse to unilaterally surrender my right to respond to this breach of faith. if senator mcconnell wants to continue to status quo of gridlock in washington, he has that right. if senator mcconnell wants to continue to believe there is no problem in the united states senate, that is his choice. but the american are really fed up with gridlock, fed up with obstruction and fed up with politics as usual. they want washington to work again for american families. so i try every day of my life to be on their side.
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i wait, i wait, but i'm not going to wait another month, another few weeks, another year for congress to take action on the things that we have been doing for two hundred and almost forty years. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i sat here patiently and listened to the majority leader's speech and i hope he'll do the same for mine since this is a very important day in the history of the senate. i want to make a couple of observations which i hope my friend, the majority leader, will listen to. first, he is trying to justify and advance what would be a very clear failure to honor his very clear commitment not to break the rules of the senate. what he is referring to in his own statements -- not mine -- regarding extraordinary circumstances. he said that, not me. in other words, to justify breaking his clear commitments not to break the rules of the senate in order to change the
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rules of the senate, he's attributing to me something somebody else said. and that somebody else, by the way, is him. attributing to me something he said. so we need to keep our commitments around here. not break them. and we need to be honest about quoting people around here. this is about trying to come up with excuses to break our commitments. what this is about is manufacturing a pretext for a power grab. i listened very carefully to what the majority leader had to say. what he's saying in effect is he doesn't want to have any controversy at all attached to any of the nominees. in other words, don't ask any questions. advise and consent means sit down and shut up. he was complaining about the number of questions that the nominee for e.p.a. administrator was required to answer.
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what he screenly left out was the -- what he conveniently left out was the chairman, senator boxer, requested 70,000 documents. why is it okay for her to request 70,000 documents and somehow if the ranking member makes a lot of requests, it is some violation of some comity? look, when the founders wrote advise and consent, i don't think they had in mind, sit down and shut up. and it's noteworthy that all of the people he's complaining about all got confirmed. so what he's really saying here is, he don't won't any debate at all in connection with presidential appointments. just sit down, shut up, and rubber stamp everything, everyone the president sends up here. on the calendar right now, there are 21 nominations -- 21.
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there are 148 in committee. we don't control the committees. he does. 148 in committee, 28 on the calendar. now, it's pretty obvious senate democrats are gearing up today to make one of the most consequential changes to the united states senate? the history of our nation. this is no small matter we're talking about here. and i guarantee you, it's a decision that, if they actually go through with it, they will live to regret. it's an open secret at this point that big labor and others on the left are putting a lot of pressure on the majority leader to change the rules of the senate and to do so, as he
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promised not to do, by breaking the rules of the senate. that would violate every protection of minority rights that have defined the united states senate for as long as anyone can remember. let me assure you, this pandora's box, once opened, will be utilized again and again by future majorities. and it will make the meaningful consensus-building that has served our nation so well a relic -- a relic of the past. now, the short-term issue that's triggered this dangerous and far-reaching proposal is simple enough: the hard left is so convinced that every one of the president's nominees should just sail through the confirmation
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process that they're willing to do permanent, irreversible damage to this institution in order to get their way. and it appears as if they've convinced the majority leader to do their bidding and hijack the senate. they're not interested in checks and balances. they're not interested in advise and consent. they're not even interested in what this would mean down the road, when republicans are the ones making the nominations. they want the power, and they want it now. they don't care about the consequences. the ends justifies the means ethougethos has been resisted by senate leader in the past smed ment and it is a clear violation
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of the ashiewrcheses that the current majority leader made to the entire senate, his constituents, and to the american people just a few months ago. what's worse, mr. president, is we got to this point on the basis of an absolutely fairy tale -- a fairy tale. obviously the left needed an excuse to justify such an unprecedented power grab, so they simply made up a story about republicans blocking the president's nominees. now, the majority leader is entitled to his opinion, but he's not entitled to his facts. the facts are the facts. so here's the real story: almost nothing about this tale so often repeated around here holds up to scrutiny. the facts are that this president took office. the senate has confirmed 1,560 people.
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the senate has confirmed every single one of the cabinet nominees that's been brought up for a vote -- brought up for a vote; every single one. the president has gotten nearly three times as many judges confirmed at this point as president bush in his presidency. here's the point: what this whole so-called crisis boils down to are three nominees that the president unlawfully appointed as confirmed by the courts. the federal court has held that three nominees were unlawfully appointed. two of the three are direct parties to the litigation, and the third one was appointed at exactly the same moment in the exact same way. and one of these nominees has been held up by inaction over at
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the white house related to structural reforms that the administration and even the nominee himself, mr. cordray, now say they're willing to work with us on. the fact is, undisputably, we've been confirming lawfully nominated folks routinely and consistently. the energy secretary 97-0. secretary of interior 87-11. the secretary of the treasury 71-26. the secretary of state 94-3, just a few days after the senate got his nomination. the secretary of commerce 97-1. the secretary of transportation 100-0. the director of the office of mapghmafnght and budget 96-0. the administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid
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services 9 1-7. the chair of the s.e.c. on a voice vote -- in other words, unanimously. and what about the nominees still awaiting confirmation who have not -- not -- been lawfnlly appointed? the senate is ready is vote on them, too. and regretfully, if nigh view, frankly, all of them appear to be ready to have the votes to be confirmed. i don't necessarily support them, but they have the votes to be confirmed. why don't they call them up? the majority leader determines what the order of business is around here. he could have scheduled votes, if that's really what he wanted to happen. why don't we have a vote on secretary of labor? what about the administrator of e.p.a.? the nlrb nominees who were not unlawfully appointed. there's some other nlrb nominees who were not unlawfully ainterpood. why aren't we voting on them?
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and as i ar said, pending the expect the negotiations on reforms to the cfpb, the senate would likely confirm the chairman to that position as well. so we need to be honest about what's going on around here. the only crisis -- the only crisis is the crisis that democrats are creating with their threats to fundamentally change the senate, something the majority leader said just a few years ago he would never even consider. and here's why he said that. because, to quote him again, going down this road is ultimately about -- quote -- "removing the last check in washington against a complete abuse of power" -- end quote. those are the words the majority leader himself used in describing the very thing he is
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now threatening to do. the very thing he is now threatening to do. so let me sum up what's going on around here. senate democrats are getting ready to do permanent damage to this body, to confirm three unconstitutionally appointed nominees by a simple majority vote. they're willing to break the rules of the senate to change the rules of the senate in order to confirm three nominees that the federal court courts have sd were unlawfully appointed. every other nomination we're talking about here has either already been confirmed or is on the way to being confirmed, but they won't call them up. he gets to decide when we vote. where are the call-ups for
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e.p.a. and labor and the three nlrb nominees lawfully appointed? if this isn't a power grab, i don't know what a power grab looks like. the president appoints three people unconstitutionally. the second-highest court in the land affirms that they were unlawfully appointed. and senate democrats want to break the rules of the senate to confirm them. this isn't the story that you just heard from the majority leader, but this is a fact. the entire phony crisis, absolutely phony, manufactured crisis, boils down to three unlawfully appointed nominees. the democrats say we're holding up the others. it's not true. he gets to schedule the votes. where are they? bring them up. the truth is, if there' there'se
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to abraham four holding things up in -- to blame for holding up things in the senate, it is the democratic majority. they are the ones blocking nearly 40 fast-track nominations, many of which have been agreed to be confirmed unanimously. and they are the ones who have yet to scheduled votes on mccarthy and perez, despite the fact that both of these highly controversial nominees already have enough votes to clear the 60-vote hurdle. i don't like the fact, frankly, bngdz $and i'm not going to -- and i'm not going to be voting for either of these nominees. tom perez is an a far-left ideologue, just one of the reasons i plan to vote against him. to pretend that the power to confirm these folks lies in the hands of anyone but the majority leader is totally disingenuous. the white house knows what i've just said.
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i've told them. and the majority leader would noknow it, too, if he spent a little more time working with his colleagues in a collegial way and a little less time trying to undermine an marginalize peevment the real reason is that the far left and big labor are leaning hard on democrats to go nuclear, go nuclear. they love the sound. and the majority leader is about to sacrifice his reputation hershey his reputation -- and this institution to go along with it because what they really want is for the senate to ratify the senate's unconstitutional decision to illegally appoint nominees to the nlrb and the cfpb without the input of the senate. now, they know they can't get that done under current rules. and they know time isn't on their side.
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the second-highest court in the land ruled unanimously that president obama had no power -- no power -- to do what he did. another court has since concurred, and now the supreme court is set to hear the case in just a few months. they obviously thought it was important enough to be dealt with at the highest court in the land. so this really isn't a fight over nominees at all. it is a fight over these illeg illegal, unconstitutionally appointed nominees. it's just laughable to think that democrats would ever agree to such a thing if we were talking about a republican president's unlawful nominees. laughable. and it's equally irrational to think we go along with this. in fact, no senator -- no senator, regardless of party, should ever consider ceding our
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constitutional duties in such a way. now, i advised the romney team before the election that if he won and i was ever elected majority leader, i would defend the senate first in these battles. i would defend this institution against a republican president trying to abuse it. that's the precedent set by majority leaders like robert byrd, who revered this institution, because they knew what it was to be in both the majority and the minority. it's what the best leaders of the senate have always done. it's absolutely tragic -- tragic -- to think this these days may be over. so here are the battle lines.
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on one side are people who think the president should have the power to unconstitutionally ignore congress and their constituents, people who believe in it so firmly they're willing to irreparably damage the senate to ensure that they get their way. they're willing to do something the majority leader himself said would contribute to the ruination of the country. i'm not making up his quotes. that's what he said. on the other side are the folks in my conference, and even some democrats with the courage to speak up against this power grab. we are the folks who believe deeply that a president of any party should work within the bound of the constitution, and that senators of both parties should fulfill their own
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constitutional obligations to thoroughly vet nominees. but we also believe in giving those nominees a fair hearing. and if you look at the facts, you'll see we've already been doing just that. as senator alexander noted, no majority leader wants written on his tombstone that he presided over the end of the senate. well, if this majority leader caves to the fringes and lets this happen, i'm afraid that's exactly what they'll write. because in his own words on the senate, the majority leader's own words, breaking the rules to change the rules is un-american. his words, not mine. i just hope the majority leader thinks about his legacy, the future of his party, and most
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importantly, the future of our country, before he acts. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i assume the words "i agree" are words that mean something. we had colloquy on the floor, and at that time he said he wouldn't do anything extraordinarily -- i said that, and he said "i agree." mr. president, let me talk about a few other things. here is what senator mitch mcconnell of kentucky said a few years ago. direct quote -- "the senate has repeatedly adjusted its rules as circumstances dictate. the first senate adopted its rules by majority which specifically provided a means to end debate simply by a simple majority vote. this was the first senate at the beginning of our country.
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that was the ability to move the previous question and end debate. this is not the first time a minority of senators upset a tradition and we intend to use article 1, section 5 to reform senate procedure by simple majority vote." that is what senator mcconnell said. now, mr. president, the interesting thing here is my friend talks as if, gee, this has never been done before. but the fact is it's been done many, many times. since 1977 it's been done 18 times, about twice every year. i think that's pretty interesting. let's see where those figures are. right here, yeah. it's happened 18 times just since 1977.
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december 12, 1979. november 9, 1979. march 5, 1980. june 11, 1980. june 10, 1980. another time in 1980. 19 # 6, 1985, 1997, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2011. the rules have been changed overruling precedents as my friend senator mcconnell said, with a majority. majority vote. also it's important to note that without getting into a lot of legal jargon, the constitution does not provide for a supermajority for the senate to provide advice and consent. perhaps the constitution knew how to provide for majorities if they wanted to. the very same clause in the constitution gives the president appointment power also provides
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for consortium of treaties. two-thirds. legislation and other things, simple majority. mr. president, my friend the republican leader has made my point. he talks about all of the votes, 97-0, 100-0, 98-0. that's the whole point. it takes months and months and years sometimes to get to where we can vote. they stall everything they can. and they've done that. that's the whole point. because it was supposed to only be under extraordinary circumstances. and i went through some detail explaining is this an extraordinary circumstance? of course not. mr. president, he talks about richard cordray. we just want a little tweak. here's the tweak in the law they want. dodd-frank knew we would have trouble with the appropriations process because republicans now don't let us do much appropriating at all.
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so the wisdom of the people that drafted dodd-frank, they said we're going to make sure the position cordray is talking about always has the resources to do what they want to do. they did something unique and said the money will come from the federal reserve. a little tweak the republicans want to do is they said we want to switch that and give it to the appropriations committee. they won't let us do appropriations bills. so that's like giving us nothing. my friend went into great detail about the nlrb. for the entire history of this country, the president has had the power to recess appoint people. the republicans have found a gimmick here that now they're saying no one has raised any objection about the qualifications of the people that the d.c. circuit said shouldn't be sitting there. no one raised anything about their qualifications.
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if there was an effort to avoid what is going on around here, they should approve these people. the other alice in wonderland statement made by my friend is the majority leader can set votes whenever he wants. oh, don't i wish. stall, obstruct is what we have around here. it's very hard to schedule votes. and we wait, as has been indicated by me a few minutes ago, we wait and we wait and we wait. and finally we get a vote. for months, months, i indicated sometimes years. then it's a big overwhelmingly positive vote. yes, because there's nothing wrong with the person to begin with. what i've said early on, mr. president, he makes my case
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there isn't a single word been said here today about the qualifications of the three people who are seeking to go on the nlrb. no facts to question their acts. he just argues the president's target was not quite right. mr. president, i think everyone realizes when you're trying to get somebody confirmed like richard cordray and you're waiting 175 days, maybe that's a little too long. listen to this here. prison under secretary of defense for logistics. that is an extremely important position in the secretary of defense's office. that person has been waiting 300 days. the united states government for
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the international phopb tar fund, jack -- monetary fund, jack lew, 169 days. probably 172. e.p.a., 128 days. secretary of labor, 114 days. nlrb, 573 days. chairman of the export import bank 111 days. associate attorney general, 294 days. chemical safety and hazard investigation -- shouldn't we have something going there? well, they don't believe in the program, so we're waiting now 295 days to even have a vote on that. remember, he said i can schedule a vote whenever i want. i wish that were true. a member of the board of directors of the tennessee valley authority 292 days. commissioner of rehabilitation service administration 156 days. the average of those few people i mentioned, 260 days.
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so, mr. president, i presented my case. my case is this is not working. and for the republicans to come here today and say that's fine, we'll give you cordray. all we want you to do is change so that the man never has any money to do his job. it doesn't sound like a very good deal to me. and no answer to these periods of times when we waited and waited and waited and finally when it's approved by an overwhelming margin. and why? because all they're doing is stalling. so, mr. president, i used to do a little work in the courts. appealed to a jury to make a decision. the jury i'm appealing to right now is the american people. they know the senate hasn't
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worked. our approval rating is in the swamps. and we need to do something to change that. will this change everything? no. but remember, since 1977 the rules of the senate have been changed about every couple times a year. in this body. and my friend, the republican leader, said previously that that's okay that,'s what the majority could do. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: on the issue of delay, if there are 148 nominations in committees, the majority leader's party controls the committees. they can come out at any point. on the calendar of business on the floor, 21 nominees pending. 21 nominees pending. the majority leader, i'm sure, will remind everybody he always gets the last word, so that i'm sure he'll speak again.
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but i would remind everybody of the core point here. he gave his word without equivocation back in january of this year that we had settled the issue of rules for the senate for this congress. that was in the wake of a bipartisan agreement to pass two rules changes and to pass two standing orders. so at the core of this is the majority leader's word to his colleagues and the senate as to what the rules would be for this congress. he gave his word, and now he appears to be on the verge of breaking his word. and secondly, the only nominees -- let's make sure we understand this. the only nominees likely to have problems getting cloture are ones that were unconstitutionally appointed,
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according to the federal court in the district of columbia. so where we are is the majority leader wants to fundamentally change the senate after breaking his word in order to jam through three nominees that the federal courts have said were unconstitutionally appointed. that's where we are, mr. president. i think it's a sad day for the senate. i hope the majority leader will reconsider what i consider to be a highly irresponsible action on his part. i see the senator from tennessee. is he going to pose a question to me or to the majority leader? mr. alexander: no. i'll wait until the majority leader finishes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: my friend, the republican leader, continues to ignore his words. that he would process
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nominations consistent with the senate. please. please. that's just ignored by him? if anyone thinks since the first of this year that the norms and traditions of the senate have been followed by the republican leader, they're living in gaga land. mr. president, he agreed that we should not have filibusters in except is in the case of extraordinary circumstances. he agreed with that. he ignores that. mr. president, i think it's also worth talking a little bit here about what the republican leader complains that people don't like the two top reasons outdistance
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all others. they don't like congress because of gridlock and not getting anything done. is that our fault? no. surveying the years that president obama has been in office, one can see time after time when democrats reach out to republicans to get things done and no one can see where they've done that. one can see that time after time the republican leader has pressured his colleagues not to work with us. so, mr. president, there is no reason that congress should be held in such low regard. we should clear the calendar. but they're not going to do that. they are going to continue this process for the next three and a half years of badgering, saying, hey, we're really good. look, we got this nomination done, and we approved it 98-0, after waiting months, months -- the first time ever in the history of this country the secretary of defense was filibustered.
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so, mr. president, i appeal to my friends on the other side of the aisle, remember the words i read from senator mcconnell where he said the ji simple majority has the right do this. we know that's true. it will only come after extraordinary circumstances, which are here. a senator: would the distinguished majority leader yield for 30 seconds? mr. reid: i would be happy to yield to a question. a senator: absolutely. mr. wicker: i would ask the majority leader. in an hour or so, democrats are going to go off and have lunch with democrats, republicans are going to go to another room and have lunch with republicans. they're going to talk to each other about what the other side is doing. this is such a serious matter. it may be the wise thing to do. i totally disagree. but i think the majority leader will agree that this is a watershed moment. could it be that early next
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week, just once, we could all meet together, perhaps in the old senate chamber, every democrat and every republican, for a caucus where actually republicans listen to democrats as to what we perceive -- as to what you perceive as the grievances. and rank-and-file democrats listen to our side of it. people are off in classified briefings right now, and i'm exceeded my 30 seconds. i understand. people are in committee meetings. people are doing the work of the senate, whether the public realizes it or not. we are not listening to each other as rank-and-file members, and i would just implore the leadership of this body, next tuesday let's clear the old senate chamber and get every republican and every democrat that wants to in there and
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actually quit talking past each other and see if there is a way for us to avoid this pivotal watershed moment in the history of the senate. mr. reid: i appreciate the remarks of my friend from mississippi. i'm going to start the process today. we're going to file cloture on a bunch of nominations. and those votes will occur next week when we schedule them. and i would be happy to ^saoe if there is way that i can see with a few senators. i've already done that. i'll be happy to see if there is a way of getting us together. we've had a nice caucus together not long ago led my senator mccain, which was really memorable. but i'm listening to what you're saying. but i say to my friend, if you're so concerned -- and you
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know you are -- about the process, i think you need to take a look at where you are. cordray -- i'm so tired of hearing this tweaking. all we need to tweak this a little bit and we'll let you have him. remember, the tweak, i repeat, i say to my friend, is to take away his ability to exist. that's not a tweak. that's further obstruction and distraction from what -- a law that we have in this land was meant to do. the nlrb, all the happy talk i hear here -- and i don't say that to disparage anyone -- we'll be happy to help you with that, but -- no one questions their qualifications. and i'm happy to hear my friend here suddenly so enthused with a court decision. a court decision doesn't stop us from doing anything. the court decision is something
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that says that -- of course, it says we can do whatever we want to. we're a legislative branch of government. we don't have to follow what the supreme court does in those instances. so, anyway, without going into any more dialogue, i appreciate what my friend says. i think what you need to do with your caucus -- you're going to have one today -- is take a look at nlrb -- there's five of them. we have no problem with the two republicans. get that done. let's get cordray done. let's get secretary of interio i which has waited -- i'm sorry, secretary of labor, which has waited such a long time. and we do the secretary of e.p.a. now, i say to my friend, i don't know why your caucus has such heartburn over things dealing with labor. my friend says that -- i don't know exactly how it is --
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left-wing, big-labor bosses. we have the secretary of labor that's being held up. we have three nlrb people being held up. let's try to work our way through that. i would be happy to listen to any way you think we can get through that. if we can, tuesday, we -- if can't, tuesday, we know what's going to happen. mr. wicker: mr. majority leader, is that a yes as to trying to get us together, republicansances democrats, as early as tuesday to see if we can talk about this? mr. reid: i am 45e7 happy to consider that. i have talked to a umin of republican senators. one of them called me at home. i was happy to take the call. said, what happens if cloture is invoked on the people you put forward? well, if that hangars i have no complaints. -- well, if that happens, i have no complaints. i would hope that everyone would learn from this process.
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i just think you need to lack what the i just -- look at what i just said. all you need is six. all youd into is six republicans to agree to do something nlrb, do something about cordray, without taking away his ability. are there any appropriators on the floor? i have been away from the committee for a while. we're not doing much appropriating around here. i know senator mcconnell and i were on the committee together. i gave my spot up to ben nelson some time ago. still have my seniority protected there, though. i am happy for your suggestion. we'll take a look at that. but it is a very simple problem. we need to get the labor -- these are not big bosses. i don't know who they are. but my culinary workers, 70,000 of them in las vegas alone, 70,000 who have problems with management. and they want to be able to gripe to somebody. mr. wicker: would the distinguished leader yield on
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simply one further national? mr. reid: sure. mr. wicker: did he understand, as i did, leader mcconnell saying just a few moments ago that the secretary of labor nominee is likely to go forward? mr. reid: that's what he said. mr. wicker: very soon. that the e.p.a. administrator is likely to go forward almost immediately. so we really are down to the three positions where there has been a united states appeals court decision, which arguably could be viewed as an extraordinary circumstance. mr. reid: i t say to my friend, this isn't the first time we've dealt with this. senator mcconnell was one that led the charge years ago. i yesterday part of his statement. it would seem to me that it would be appropriate for you folks to understand what i just
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said. it doesn't take -- doesn't take somebody who's been here as long as senator byrd was. to say to me now, hey, we're going to do mccar thivment she is only waited 150 days. we're going to do perez. we'll do him right now. that's the problem. we shouldn't be waiting around here for months and months and months to get a vote on one of these nominees. that's the position. i appreciate your position. i'm going to go to my office and meet a few people that -- do you have a question for me. i am a happy to answer any questions while i'm on the floor. mr. corker: i appreciate you allowinallowing me to talk withu recently on the phone. i know we have an issue here. i would just go back to the senator from miss mic question. -- from mississippi's question.
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last night is on the phone with a number of members of high esteem in your caucus. and when i would talk to them about this issue, they have no understanding whatsoever about any background. they just say, look, i'm frustrate and so i'm going to vote for the nuclear option. and i just would say to respond to the senator from mississippi that you're right. so you have some things that are coming up here momentarily. it's possible that many of them, maybe all, but many of them will be resolved. but it seems to me, unless we do the thing that the distinguished senator from mississippi just mentioned, there's going to be a continual gap of knowledge regarding these issues. so i would just say to you, i think you know that i do everything i can, the senior senator from tennessee does everything he can to try to make this place work. we want to solve our nation's
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problems. i think if you'll put the actual votes off to at least wednesday, there may be some resolve. but i really would please ask that we have that opportunity that the senator asked for, so that really both people -- we need to understand your grievances more, and i know that members on your side that are very respected, all of them are probably, need to understand ours. i think that would be very, very helpful, and i really believe, mr. leader, it would cause your leadership to be far more productive and worthwhile and you'd come in every morning smiling, like you are right now. mr. reid: mr. president, to my friend from tennessee, from the day he's got here, he's tried to follow the mold set by lamar alexander. they are both conciliate irrelevance. they like to work things out. we haven't been able to work things out but they try. no one tries harder than they do. we talk about extreme
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circumstances. that was the quol colloquy thaty friend and i had here on the floor. ito say to the nlrb is extreme circumstances. this is like somebody sets a house afire and then you complain your house is gone. the extraordinary circumstances have been created by you guys. so i say again to my friends here in the senate, i would be happy to do a joint meeting of the two caucuses. but not to come there and just throw a lot of numbers around. the point is, everybody, i want this resolved. and i want it resolved one way or the other. i'm through -- i have been -- just so i remind everyone, i have from two congresses -- the last congress and this congress
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-- i have gone against the wishes of the vat majorit vast f my caucus not to have done something before. we did a few things. most were window dressing. didn't accomplish much of anything on the rules we changed. so, i'm happy to have a group of senators indicate to me how we're going to get these people i have on the calendar done. this is no threat. ui just think that would be the appropriate thing to do. so if we have something positive to report in a joint meeting without going back to the same -- same stalling, obstruction -- i don't need to go over this list of people again, some of them have been waiting for years to get something done, years. and i just am not going to continue doing that. we have to have something more than my friend coming to the floor and say, i'm not going to
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do anything unless there is an extraordinary six. i think that has been stoppe stn the ground. so there is name-calling that we have to stop. i am happy to go to my caucus today and make my case and i'm very fortunate that i have a pretty good hand of the caucus. they're going to go what is good for the country. i hope that, as everyone knows, that the vote we can schedule anytime we want on use it day. -- on tuesday. any other questions? mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the time until 12:30 p.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with senators permitted to speak for up to ten mens each, with the republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the majority controlling the second 30 minutes.. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee.
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mr. alexander: i beg your pardon? thank you. mr. president, i thank the majority leader for his statement, for the time he spent. i was looking at the executive calendar. first, i spent most of this week working on the student loan issue, as the majority leader knows, and we're coming to an agreement, it looks like, as we have with a number of other things. but i would like to renew to the majority leader the suggestion that we all get together next week and talk this through, as the senator from mississippi has suggested. i think it would be a wise thing to do. there are other senators here who wish to speak, so i'll try to be succinct. but let me address just a few of the points that the majority leader made. one reason i think it would be wise for us to get together as democratic and republican senators is that what he is saying is different from the way i read the facts. and one of us has got to be
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wrong about that. for example, have republicans use the filibusters to deny president obama's nominees a position in government. the answer is a fact. i invited the senate historian and the congressional research service over to my office. i asked them the question. here's the answer to the question: in the history of the senate, no supreme court justice has ever been denied his or her seat by a filibuster. there was a little incident with justice fordice that lyndon johnson engineered, but that was different. so in the cases of the supreme court, zero. how many district judges have been denied their seat by filibuster? the answer is zero. how many cabinet members have been denied their seat by filibuster? the answer, according to the senate historian and the congressional research service,
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is zero. how many circuit judges have been denied their seat by filibuster? the answer is seven. and how did that happen? democrats for the first time in history, when president george w. bush came in, blocked five. and we said, well, if you're going to change the rules, then we'll change the rules, so we blocked two. that's what happens around here. but other than that, it's zero. and then the majority leader said that there's been some big delay about president obama's nominees. these aren't throwing statistics around. that's either true or it's not true. here's what the "washington post" says and the congressional research service says. "the washington post" by al cayman, march 18, 2013, president obama's second-term cabinet members are going through the senate at a rate that beats the averages of the last three administrations with second terms. president obama is being better
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treated in terms of his cabinet nominees than the last three presidents. i asked the congressional research service the same -- the same question. they said "as of june 27, last month, his nominees were still on average moving from announcement to confirmation faster than those of president george w. bush, faster than president clinton." someone in the democratic caucus needs to hear this. the number of people who have been dough -- denied a seat by filibuster is zero. president obama's nominees are moving through the cabinet faster than his last three predecessors. that's important information. now, are there a lot of nominees sitting around for too long a period of time? i have the thing we call the executive calendar right here. senator mcconnell referred to it. i could go through it quickly. i count 24 people on the
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calendar. the one who's been on there the longest was reported by committee on february 26 of this year. that's four months ago, mr. president. now let's be very elementary about this. the only way you get on this calendar is to be reported out of committee. the only way you get out of committee is for the democratic majority to vote you on to this calendar. so we can fill this calendar up any time the democratic committee majority wants to. there's a brigadier general named long. the committee has asked we hold that. there is jacob lew to the international monetary fund. bring him up. bring him up. he'll be confirmed. let's go back to that. the only way you get a name to the floor is if the majority leader brings his name to the floor. jacob lew has been there since april 16. bring him up. here's an air force person. here's ms. mccarthy from
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massachusetts. she's been reported to the committee. bring her up. the republican leader has said she'll get cloture, and that means she'll be confirmed. he said the same thing about the department of labor. he's been reported since may 16. mr. president, i'm not a very controversial person. i was held up for 87 days by an ill-tempered democratic senator for what i thought was no good reason, using article 2, section 2, of the constitution's right to advise and consent. president reagan's nominee for the attorney general, ed meese, was held up for a year, and nobody thought about changing the rules of the senate because it used its constitutional authority to advise and consent. the former senator rudman was held up by his home state senator until rudman withdrew his name, and then he ran against that senator and was elected to the senate. the advise and consent responsibility of the senate has gone on since the days this country was founded. and if you go down through this list of people, there are only
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24 on the list. he could bring them all up. and 24 is not very many. and then it reminds me that right after that are the privilege nominations. what are those? those are the result of our rules changes which removed a number of people from presidential nomination and created a whole new category for several hundred so they don't go through a more cumbersome process, and that's working very, very well. so, zero filibusters denying nominations. cabinet members going through the senate more rapidly than the last three presidents. so what's the beef here, mr. president? i mean, what is going on? there are only three judges on this calendar. an embarrassingly small number for us to deal with. we could clear this calendar in one afternoon. how do we do that? the majority leader brings them up except for three that are illegally apopponented. i won't go into a long thing
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about the three that are illegally appointed except to say they are illegally appointed and most of the founders of this country didn't want a king, and they created a system of checks and balances. and they created a congress. and they created an ability for us to restrain an imperial presidency. that's what this advise and consent is supposed to do, and we should exercise that. as former senator byrd used to say most eloquently on this floor, it is our opportunity to answer questions. and just because the majority leader seeks to cut off debate doesn't mean that person is denied. i'll give you an example. secretary hagel, the majority leader tried to cut off debate two days after he came to the floor from the committee. we said we want a little more time to consider this. we'll be glad to sraet for him for cloture -- to vote for him in cloture in ten days. and he went ahead and called
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that a filibuster. but he's sitting in his spot as secretary of defense today. you can go down through all these nominations and really find no evidence, no evidence whatsoever. so we need a meeting of the two caucuses to say what's going on here? why are you seeking to do this? and the last thing i would like to say is it is appropriate from time to time in the case of subcabinet members to use the cloture to deny a seat. there have been seven opportunities for that. john bolton was one that the democrats did to president bush. but as i conclude my remarks here, i'd like to say this. the majority leader said, well, we changed the rules 18 times. never like this. what he's proposing to do is to turn this body into a place where the majority can do whatever it wants to do.
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that's like the house of representatives. so the majority can do whatever it wants to do. freight train can run through the house of representatives in one day, and it could run through here in one day. and this year it might be a democratic freight train. in a year and a half it might be the tea party express. and there are a lot people on that side of the aisle that might be very unhappy with the agenda that 51 people who have creative imaginations on this side of the aisle can do if they can do anything they want to do with 51 votes. i like to read a lot of history. john meacham's book about jefferson has a conversation with jefferson and adams at the beginning of our country. they were president and vice president, i guess, at the time. jefferson said to adams, "he feared for the future of the republic if it did not have a senate. no republic could ever last which had not a senate. trusting the popular assembly" -- that means the house, a majority vote institution, for the preservation of our liberties is
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the merest thing imaginable. and one other distinguished public servant said the same thing in his book in 2007. this is what harry reid said in his book about, when he wrote about the nuclear option. he was talking about the then-majority leader senator frist. he decided to pursue a rules change that would kill the filibuster for judicial nominations -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. alexander: i'll be through in just a minute. i ask consent to speak another minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: the leader said, senator frist of tennessee was majority leader and decided to pursue a rules change that would kill the filibuster for judicial nominations. this is harry reid writing. once you open that pandora's box, it was just a matter of time before a senate leader who couldn't get his way on something -- on something moved to eliminate the filibuster for regular business as well. and senator reid wrote that, simply put, would be the end of
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the united states senate. i do not want senator reid to have written on his tombstone he presided over the end of the united states senate. yet, if he does what he's threatening to do, that would be what he's remembered for in the history of this country. i thank the president. i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i listened very carefully to the majority leader this morning. what he said is he said confirming nominees should be the norm, not the exception. confirming nominees should be the norm, not the exception. well, i would ask respectfully that the majority leader take a look at actually the record, because you cannot ignore the facts. of the 1,564 nominations that president obama has sent to the senate, only four have been rejected. four of 1,564. during the first two years of the president's term in office, his first term, the 111th
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congress, the senate confirmed 920 nominees and rejected one. the second portion of that first term, which was the 112th congress, the senate confirmed 574 nominees and rejected just two. and now during the 113th congress the senate has confirmed 66 nominees and rejected just one. in terms of cabinet nominees -- and we heard the majority leader speak of that, the congressional research service shows that president obama's nominees have waited an average of 51 days. that's shorter than for president george w. bush and shorter than the time under president clinton. when you take a look at judges -- and the majority leader talked about that -- the democrats should remember the senate has already confirmed more judges this year so far than were confirmed in the entire first year of president
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bush's second term. when you go over this item by item, detail by detail, what you see is that confirming nominees is the norm, not the exception. it was interesting to listen to the majority leader talk about don berwick who was nominated to be head of health and human services, medicare. as a medicare nominee, what happened there? the democrat chairman of the committee never ever scheduled a hearing. the democrats were in charge of that nominee. the president made a recess appointment. there was never even a nomination hearing. we go through the years and look at the quotes and here's senator reid in 2005. "some in this chamber want to throw out 214 years of senate history in the quest for absolute power." he said "they think they're wiser than our founding fathers." senator reid said, "i doubt that's true." and i think that we should all
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follow that advice. we're not wiser than the founding fathers. it is not time to throw out the rules. and then even as majority leader in 2009, senator reid said, "the nuclear option was the most important issue i've ever worked on in my entire career, because if it had gone forward it would have destroyed the senate as we know it." there's not a problem with president obama's nominees being treated fairly and being treated in a timely fashion. there's not a problem of his nominees in terms of not being confirmed. 1,560 confirmed, 4 rejected. senate democrats should remember -- should remember their prior commitments and abandon this plan before irreparably damaging the united states senate. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be pulled back. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you. i also ask unanimous consent that my intern chris rig, be allowed privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. this morning a significant debate began on the floor of the senate which is how to make the senate function within the framework of the constitution and within the norms and traditions of the u.s. senate. indeed, the constitution envisioned three coequal branches of government. and it provided checks and
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balances, and one of those was that when the president nominates individuals for executive branch positions, congress could serve as a check, specifically, the senate was given that power, to review the qualifications, make sure that there was not something outrageous about the nomination as a check on the executive. and that principle was embedded as a simple majority review. indeed, in the constitution it's in the same paragraph that lays out a supermajority standard for treaties. but retains a simple majority standard for reviewing executive branch nominations. the senate in recent times has started, however, to use the privilege of having your say. that is, that everyone should be heard before a decision is made,
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as a way to change that fundamental principle in the constitution from a seufrp majority to a -- from a simple majority to a supermajority. you can't close debate in the senate without a supermajority. even though no one has anything else to say, that power has been used to prevent a simple up-or-down vote. under this theory of three coequal branches of government, no one could envision that a minority of one chamber of the legislature could in fact completely undermine either the executive branch or the judicial branch. that certainly was never anticipated. indeed, the reason it was left as a simple majority is that our founding fathers who were writing the constitution had experienced the challenge of what a supermajority would do. and madison said this, regarding
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the supermajority, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. he said in federalist paper 22, speaking from the painful experience as a new york representative to the congress, it created the articles of confederation. it continued, majority rule results in -- and i quote -- "tedious delays, continual negotiation and intrigue, contemptible compromises of the public good." madison was not the only one to observe the deadly nature of paralysis to a congress. in federalist paper 76, alexander hamilton lays out the nomination process in great detail. indeed he says he kept the nomination power with the president and not the legislative branch to avoid the -- and i quote -- "party likings and dislikes, partialities and antipathies, attachments and animosities felt by those who compose the assembly. he went on to argue the senate is necessary to vet nominees for
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the intrinsic merit of the candidate and, continuing to quote, the advancement of the public service. hamilton states he expects nominees would be rejected only when there were -- and i quote -- "special and strong reasons for the refusal." so this principle of oversight to make sure that something that is outside the bounds of reason is done by the executive branch has now reached a point of deep abuse. our majority leader came to the floor earlier today, and he laid out the history of how the nomination process has been bent from an unrecognizable process that neither madison, hamilton nor any of our other founders could have envisioned, a process that allows this senate to utilize the privilege of having your say on the floor and turning it into a weapon of destruction against the legislative branch and the judicial branch. we can -- and take a look at how
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long it's taken folks to be able from the announcement and their wait in time to get a vote. richard cordray, 724 days and counting. alan estevez, 292 days. jack lew, 169. and so on and so forth. so the traditional norm of the senate, a timely up-or-down vote with rare exceptions is certainly missing today. the executive branch is headed by the president who was elected by the citizens of the united states. in this case president obama was not elected once. he was elected twice. he was elected with a vision. and people expect, citizens expect that the president will operate the presidency consistent with implementing that vision and carry out the
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responsibilities of an executive branch. that cannot be done if the folks necessary to lead agencies or sit on different boards cannot get through the nomination process in this senate. so for those who are passionate about believing in the vision that we have, the constitutional vision, the balance of powers, the coequal branches of government, we must act to remedy the deep abuses we are experiencing today. let me first emphasize the extensive delays. executive nominees who are ready to be confirmed by the senate have been pending an average of 258 days. the better balance of a complete year. more than eight months since they were first nominated.
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258 days. that hardly meets the norm or the tradition of the senate of timely consideration. this has been a prime cause of the difficulty filling executive branch slots. not only does it make the vacancies extend for a long period of time and, therefore, dysfunction in executing the responsibilities of government, but it certainly makes it more difficult to recruit qualified folks who don't want to be held in limbo and procedurally tortured by a minority of the senate in this fashion. now, this is not new. thisthis did not start this yea. but it just keeps getting worse. and in that context, let's go back to january. in january there were a series of bipartisan modest changes in the rules, and they were
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accompanied by a promise of comity. that's c-o-m-i-t-y. comity. and specifically the pledge by the republican leader was this: senate republicans will work with the majority to process nominations, consistent with the norms and traditions of the u.s. senate. what are those norms and traditions? those are timely consideration, up-or-down votes with rare exception. so let's take a look and see if what has happened over the last six months is consistent with the norms and traditions of the u.s. senate. let's start first with looking at the consumer financial protection bureau. just weeks after the january pledge, 44 republican senators
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sent a letter that said -- quote -- "we will not support the consideration of any nominee regardless of party affiliation to be the cfpb director." february 1, 2013, just days after the republican leader pledged a return to the norms and traditions of the u.s. senate. this is not within the norms and traditions of the u.s. senate, even going back to our founders who pointed out that they were worried about partisan, party-affiliated differences and animosities permeating the system. and so they laid out a simple nomination confirmation process about the qualifications of the individual. not about the legitimacy, if you will, of the agency.
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that's a policy decision. it's a policy that has been passed in this u.s. senate, saying that the consumer financial protection bureau is a valuable addition to end practices that are predatory financial practices. now we had a consumer safety group that looks at things like keeping lead out of the paint on children's toys, and that's very important. and it goes on monitoring the safety of toys and many other aspects of consumer products. yes, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak for an additional ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. we indeed in this case are talking about an agency that will protect our families from predatory financial practices. we all know what those are. those are hidden charges on prepaid credit cards. those are exploding rate
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interest on mortgages where there is a teaser rate for two years and then the mortgage zooms up from 4% to 9%, depriving defaults. in fact, that was a -- driving defaults, in fact that was a major factor of loss for homes for millions of families and a meltdown of our economy. building successful families is tkpw-d for build ago -- is good for building a successful economy. we had that debate, and now we have 44 senators who say they are going to destroy this agency by blocking a director from ever being appointed. that is 100% outside the norms and traditions of the u.s. senate. and of course that restoration of the norms and traditions was the promise made on this floor by the republican leader just days before this letter was sent. according to the senate historian, this is the first time in history a political party has blocked a nomination of someone because they didn't like the construction of the agency.
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let me repeat that again. the first time in history. just a few weeks later we had another first. the first ever filibuster of a defense secretary nominee. "the new york times" wrote, "this is the first time in his history the senate has declared a nominee for secretary of defense clear the 60-vote hurdle. chuck hagel. certainly this was out of the norms and sync of the u.s. senate. then we come to this spring. again, unprecedented delay tactics. a republican form e house member called the boycotting committee of gina mccarthy -- quote -- "an unprecedented attempt to slow down the confirmation process and kwrupb mine the agency." is that consistent with the
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norms and traditions that were promised in january? it is not. in fact, i sit on the committee that voted gina mccarthy out. and when we tried to have the vote, we were faced with a boycott. that is a quorum was denied because our colleague, senator lautenberg, was extremely sick and could not attend. and taking advantage of his illness, republicans decided not to show up and, therefore, blocked that nomination from coming out of committee. only when senator lautenberg came in in the midst of an extreme illness did the republican members show up to committee. that is part of this ongoing process of unprecedented obstruction. now real delays involve real hurt. it's not an academic debate. this obstruction is having a real impact on people's lives. let's turn to the national labor relations board.
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in just a few weeks, in august, there will no longer be a quorum for the nlrb. that means for the first time in 78 years, there will be no referee in place between the rules for the conduct of employers and employees. now that referee makes sure illegal practices by workers don't occur and illegal practices by employers don't occur. we lose that referee in a few weeks, that as members of this senate chamber have expressed, is their goal. again, this is unprecedented. not putting forward a policy debate over eliminating the national labor relations board but instead undermining it by blocking the ability to hold up and down votes on the conferees. workers are deeply affected by whether or not this referee is in place.


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